BRENT SANCHO, managing director of Central FC, the defending TT Pro League champions, has stated that there will be no clear-cut favourites for the 2016-17 campaign, which began last Friday and runs until early February.

The League executive recently agreed to shorten the season this year and, in return, revert to the previous format of an April-December calendar, starting in 2017.

“This is probably the toughest season for any club for that matter,” Sancho said, during a telephone interview yesterday. “Look at the squads on paper, there is a lot of talent. All it takes is for one team to come in hot and that could spell the end for some of the favourites, or so-called favourites.

“It will take a high level of discipline and concentration by our players to maintain their number one status,” he continued. “Every team in this country will be gunning for us. We are the champions so we have to play every game as if it’s a final.” Central FC began their title defence last evening with a Round One Match Day One contest against W Connection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Asked how this season will impact on his team, Sancho replied, “on the field you want to start quickly. You only have two rounds of football and I believe we have to be there (top) or thereabouts after the first round if you have a legitimate chance of winning this year. Off the pitch I think it’s a good initiative. We have, as clubs, struggled, particularly in the Carnival period, to gain any sort of interest as it relates to attendances.

“I think with a shortened season, a more compact season, it will bring a lot more interest in the League, particularly now with household names coming back like Kenwyne Jones, Carlos (Edwards) and Jason Scotland,” he added.

“It only augurs well for the interest that it generates, added to the fact that we’ll try to play in community grounds. It will enhance the Pro League product a bit more.

“From a corporate TT point of view, I’m happy to see Courts coming on board, DirecTV with W Connection, Ma Pau with North East and Maritime with us.

There is corporate interest and I’ll like to see more.” Concerning the team’s preparations, Sancho pointed out, “we’ve worked hard. We’ve had a bit of a longer preparation than most, outside of W Connection, because of CONCACAF (Champions League). We’ve worked very hard.” The former Sports Minister and TT defender continued, “it’s been the toughest pre-season we’ve had, as it relates to the work we’ve put in. We’ve done some work at the Long Circular gym, a lot of core work and a lot of yoga as well. It’s been hard but we’re seeing some benefits for the work we’ve put in.

In the CONCACAF Champions League and in the Charity Shield game, we’ve started off tremendously well. In terms of our preparation, coach Dale Saunders did a tremendous job in putting together quite an extensive pre-season for us, which would have really helped our guys in terms of the marathon that we have this year.” Two inclusions in the team for this season are TT captain Kenwyne Jones (on loan from Atlanta United until December 31) and midfielder Keron Cummings (from North East, now Ma Pau Stars) who Sancho declared have settled in quite easily.